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St. Petersburg police make arrest in fatal hit-and-run

Danzel Rashard Hammonds, 31, is accused of leaving the scene after running over and killing a pedestrian in the crosswalk of 1st Avenue N and 16th Street N last fall.
Danzel Rashard Hammonds, 31, was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving death and tampering with physical evidence in a fatal hit and run from October.
Danzel Rashard Hammonds, 31, was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving death and tampering with physical evidence in a fatal hit and run from October. [ Courtesy of St. Petersburg Police Department ]
Published May 5

St. Petersburg police have arrested a man accused in the hit-and-run death of a 58-year-old pedestrian in October.

Danzel Rashard Hammonds, 31, was arrested Wednesday on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving death and tampering with physical evidence.

Police said the victim, Hollis Heatherley, of Clearwater, was trying to cross 1st Avenue North in the crosswalk at 16th Street North about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 3. Hammonds fatally struck Heatherley and left the scene, police said.

According to a search warrant police filed in the case, investigators interviewed witnesses, who said a black 2014 Toyota Scion FR-S was being driven west on 1st Avenue N at the time of the crash. Officers also used pieces of the vehicle that broke off at the scene to determine its make and model.

Police then looked up all the registered black 2014 Toyota Scion FR-S vehicles in Pinellas County. The warrant does not say how many there were.

Officer Michael Jockers went to a home in the 1000 block of 62nd Place South in St. Petersburg, seeking a vehicle of the same make and model that was registered under Hammonds’ name. The home’s owner took Jockers to the garage where the vehicle was located, the search warrant states.

The left front fender, front bumper and grill had all been removed from the vehicle. Some missing parts were located next to the vehicle in the garage, according to the search warrant. Neighbors told Jockers that Hammonds was the only person who used the car and that it was normally parked in the driveway, not the garage.

One neighbor told Jockers that the day after the crash, Hammonds parked the car in front of the house and removed parts from the vehicle, according to the warrant.

Police took DNA swabs from the vehicle and requested a search warrant to obtain a DNA swab from Hammond himself.

After his arrest, Hammonds was released from the Pinellas County jail on $52,000 bail Thursday morning.

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